MDSimages » Photography and HDR digital art by Michael Steighner

A celebration of art on the Playa – Finding a deeper meaning at Burning Man

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

Perhaps you’ve noticed by now that I have had a hard time putting into words my recent experience. It’s but only once a year that a collective group of unique artists, wanderers, ravers, hippies, techies, lawyers, parents, attorneys, freaks, children, free spirited creatives, doctors, craftsmen, …… you name it…..a very special slice of humanity from all over the world….make the long and difficult trek into the deep desert to live in harmony as they attend Burning Man. Sixty thousand people together for a week in the harsh climate of the desert and I didn’t even see ONE altercation or act of violence. How is that even possible in todays world? In any world?

As I attempt to describe this most unique celebration of art, music, and life…I am reminded of a conversation I had with a girl that wandered into our camp that we set up (more on that in a future post). Describing Burning Man is a close second to trying to describe the concept of color to a blind man.

I’m really not sure where this is going actually (this post that is……), but here we go…..

Perhaps this might be a good time to stop and read this.

Or watch this.


Like I said, as a first time visiter to this special world and someone who quickly realized that it was not about observing, but of participating, (more on that in a future post as well) I am still at a loss as to how to completely describe this event. In a way, it definitely resonated with me as a possible micro example of how life could be, or perhaps how it used to be…..and even how I hope it WILL be. I mean you have to admit, if you stop to really think about it, just how completely off track is our modern society anyway. Perhaps its my own perception and personal view of the world around me as I look out and wonder “What the hell is everyone working so hard for?” “What is the end goal? ….To have a bunch of stuff?” “What are we doing???” “What is this seemingly senseless argument going on in the world all in the name of religion?” “Why can’t everyone just freaking get along?” “I wonder if there are any frozen waffles in the freezer?”

(just wanted to make sure you were listening!)

Like I said, not really sure where this is going……getting way off track here!

Lets take a quick break and enjoy this cool piece that just came across my facebook stream from this years burn.

Pretty cool huh? Kinda makes me wish I took a few more images:(

I personally love seeing the variety of ways that our diverse group here has absorbed, captured, and are now presenting their work. Not to mention the creative collection of individuals that have expressed themselves IN these images and videos through various mediums like clothing, vehicle construction, dance, lighting design, and personal expression. It’s amazing what ends up being produced when we are truly free to create and explore ourselves without the limitations and criticism of modern society!

I harp on a little here on the blog about art. Getting back to your authentic self. Your creative self!

I was reminded of that after talking to a good friend tonight briefly on the phone. It really hurt to listen to someone I love dearly (a very creative friend I must add) as a picture of quiet desperation was vividly painted of a life that is sinking deeper and deeper into what society tells us is the way to live. The nine to five, the schedule, the stress, the race for stuff….all coupled with the sad exclusion of the creative self……

Perhaps THIS might be a good time to watch this.

Looks like a good movie no?

So where AM I going with all of this?

Not sure actually…..

As I type this and continue to link to these videos and posts, I realize that at the same plane of existence I am on…..as labels would have me named; a parent, an entrepreneur, a real estate investor, a businessman, an artist, a whatever…..I am also perhaps a hippie of sorts in disguise. Although I don’t see myself selling off my personal possessions, packing a few basic essentials into the shag carpeted VW bus (I’d actually have to find one of those first), putting on the tie dyed shirt, and heading off to Haight Ashbury, I still like to question the sanity of the world around me.

Who made all these rules? Who set up this system we are blindly following?

Sometimes it takes a trip to something like Burning Man to get me thinking a little bit deeper again. In that little world, the art of living, giving, and creating was what drove it. Not consumerism, capitalism, consumption, or greed. Seems so simple doesn’t it? (all right, now I’m REALLY sounding like a hippie).

But is this way to live life sustainable on a larger scale?

Not sure. Maybe thats what makes this gathering so special.

But what small piece of this can we all learn to embrace on our day to day life in the real world though?

If I had but a few wishes, they would be for more people to find a way to tap into your own passions, find a way to embrace their gifts, and find a way to get back to creating like they were a kids again…..shouldn’t this be what we all strive for? Wouldn’t just a little bit more of that in the world make it a better place? Sound like a fantasy? Sound a bit cheesy? (seriously, I wonder if I DO have any of those waffles)

I ask you…what world do you choose to live in? What unique gifts do you have to present to the world? And by gifts, one does not have to know how to paint, sing, or dance. We all have our own unique voice and light to share with one and other. What are your unique gifts? How can you find a way to share these? What do you want to create? What do you have to share with the world? How can you get started?

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